The Curse of Time: Chapter 11
Now, I think we all know what Raven chose. It would be foolish to think otherwise. But then, just for a moment, let us imagine what would have happened if she had chosen to stay in her secure life. She would have gone to school, possibly dropped out, possibly changed degrees, possibly gone on to get her masters, and maybe (just maybe) gotten a good job somewhere. Then she would meet the perfect guy, have the perfect kids, and die the perfect death; or she would meet the perfect guy, have horrible kids, and die a terrible death; or she would never meet the guy and die alone and unhappy. You get the picture.
But she didn’t choose to stay. She chose to have an adventure; an adventure that started the moment she set foot through a small, broken down door to a shack in the middle of nowhere. Now, this is not the climax of our story by any means. In fact, it is only the beginning. Or perhaps it would be better to define this moment as the end of the beginning; for the background has been set, the introduction has been told, and the adventure is about to begin. Hold on tight.
Drop out wasn’t just a silly term coined by over-enthusiastic boys with a pet project. It was really literal. Raven had agreed to join the project on the condition that they let her run a test drop by herself. Why? Well, it was simple really. She wanted to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and that they could really follow through on the alternate dimension travel. So, here she was- dropping out.
As she put one fashionably clad foot towards the portable in front of her- necklace secured gently around her neck- Raven took a moment to reflect upon her position; the solid ground beneath her feet, her friend and brother by her side, a white room enveloping her, and an invisible mirror shining in front of her. She was standing secure in reality, and the world in front of her was one of desert sands and burning sun. Just looking at it made her blister and hesitate, and then she stepped through and dropped out.
Where am I? She wondered as she looked around her. For a brief moment she was standing nowhere, but somewhere. It was dark and cold and bright and warm all at the same time. And then that moment was gone and she was standing in the desert. Quickly, she whipped around to make sure her doorway hadn’t disappeared, and then she turned back to look on a new world with understanding eyes.
She had seen a desert before she stepped through, and she saw a desert now. But it wasn’t hot. In fact, it was barely warm. At first, she was confused by this. And then she remembered the special suit that she was wearing and realized it must be keeping things cool. What she couldn’t figure out was how it was keeping her head cool when she didn’t have the hood on.
Suddenly, Cameron’s voice popped into her head.
“Are you there? How is it?”
“Wait, how can I hear you?”
“I’m not really sure- that part I left to Emilia. Believe it or not, she knows more about expensive and powerful tech than either I or your brother.”
Kaya’s voice cut in quickly.
“Hey! Their tech is awesome! I mean, it could use some upgrades, but I can see to that!”
Raven smiled inwardly at Kaya’s excitement. Great, they’ve created a monster. Now there’s no way I’m ever getting out of this.
“So, what do you want to know?”
“Huh?” Cameron was back, “Know about what?”
“Where I am? Another world? It’s kind of hot, but I’m not feeling it- which I’d like to know more about when I get back. For now, I’ll just settle with where you want me to go before I wander off on my own.”
“How about back to your own world? Not safe to go wandering off out there without a map.”
“A map- really? You’re really worrying about me getting lost?”
“No, I’m worried about The Company finding you. I’ll tell you more when you come back through and we can get to the real work.”
“’Kay, I’m comin’ back through. Watch out.”
Raven turned around and stepped back through the mirror. Again, she found herself in a place that was in between un-being and being- reality and un-reality. But this time she was not alone. Glancing to the side, she caught a glimpse of someone in the corner of her eye. He looked back at her and smiled, dark hair falling into his deep eyes. And then he turned towards her… and waved. She gave him a questioning look, and then she understood the term “drop out”. Her feet seemed to literally drop out from under her and she found herself back in her own world.
She didn’t know why it took her so many trips to feel what so many had felt right away, but she did know that the drop out was real, and it hurt them all. Raven’s drop out landed her in a pile on the floor of the lab, on top of Kaya and Emilia who had happened to be standing too close to the mirror. The boys were just standing back and laughing, gasping out that they had warned them to stand back and professionals would have listened to advice. Raven didn’t find it funny.
Standing up, she helped Kaya to her feet and peeled Emilia off of the floor, pushing everyone into work. She needed to know what they were doing so she could go back through and look again. She needed to know who he was.